Montana Must Have Paid Leave

Friday, February 10th 2017
Helena Independent Record

I work as an eligibility specialist for the office of public assistance. People turn to public assistance after they have experienced a traumatic financial setback such as the loss of employment due to illness. Most families require both parents to work in order to afford the cost of raising children. When a parent takes time off to care for their sick child, the family loses half their income. In other cases, the family’s income drops to zero when the healthy spouse has to take care of their sick partner.

By the time I receive their application for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, they have drained their savings. They have run out of options and are at their wits’ end. Illness itself is stressful but then to add financial stress to the situation places unnecessary strain on the family. Nobody plans on getting cancer or suffering from a stroke or having a heart attack. Yet the previously mentioned scenarios are the top three causes of death in Montana.

Family is an important principle for many Montanans. Yet Montanan families suffer when employers do not offer paid leave. If we truly value family, then Montana must have paid leave.

Jesse Wolf – Letter to the Editor

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